CC:GARTH NEUFFER, NAOMI DECTER
SUBJECT:COMMUNICATIONS PLAN FOR AMBASSADOR BOUHLAL ROLLOUT
As Morocco seeks to increase support among US media, policymakers and think-tank leaders, the arrival of Ambassador Rachad Bouhlal provides a wonderful opportunity to introduce the Ambassador to the US and communicate Morocco’s positive messages. The MAC Communications Team would like to propose the following activities as a roll-out for the Ambassador in the US over the coming weeks (all, ideally, to be concluded before the beginning of summer vacations in July.)
Media Luncheon with the Ambassador
The Comm. Team proposes to work with the Embassy to organize a media luncheon at the Embassy with the Ambassador and a small group of select reporters to introduce himself as Morocco’s new Ambassador and for a briefing on US-Moroccan relations, including highlighting the importance of targeting US support for the refugee camps and full implementation of the recent Appropriations language. The proposed journalists include:
1) Jennifer Rubin (Washington Post, “Right Turn”) – Jennifer Rubin is very interested in Morocco, understands and supports our messaging, particularly with regards to the Western Sahara, the Polisario and terrorism. Rubin has written several times on key issues concerning our campaigns and maintain and strengthening this relationship will be very beneficial in the future.
2) Massoud Hayoun (The Atlantic) – Massoud Hayoun writes often about the Arab Spring and has written about Morocco’s experience, as it relates to ethnic identity and protection of ethnic minorities. His publication is well-known and well-respected—particularly among the Left—and educating Hayoun/strengthening that relationship will encourage him to explore and write further on Morocco and topics related to our campaigns.
3) Lee Smith (The Weekly Standard) — Lee Smith is Weekly Standard Senior Editor and author of the respected book on the Middle East, « The Strong Horse. » He has reported extensively on the Middle East/Arab Spring and has written favorably several times about Morocco — about human rights, Western Sahara and the king’s March 9, 2011 speech on Constitutional reform.
4) Oren Dorell (USA Today) — Oren Dorrel, a foreign affairs reporter for USA Today, writes about society and warfare in the Middle East, from Morocco to Pakistan. He has written favorably about the recent Constitutional reforms and referendum.
5) Eli Lake (Newsweek/The Daily Beast) — Eli Lake, Senior National Security correspondent for Newsweek/The Daily Beast, writes extensively about security ramifications for US policy of developments in MENA.
6) Jackson Diehl (Washington Post) — Jackson Diehl is an influential foreign affairs columnist for the Washington Post.
7) Robert Kagan (Brookings Institution) — Robert Kagan, senior fellow at Brookings is historian, author and foreign policy commentator, who is very interested in Morocco. His latest book (2012), The World America Made, has won broad acclaim and was mentioned in President Obama’s most recent state of the union address.
Editorial Board Meetings
The Comm. Team proposes meetings for the Ambassador at the major newspaper editorial boards in DC and NYC to introduce himself and educate editorialists on Morocco-US relations, democratic reforms, appropriations language and efforts to peacefully resolve the Western Sahara conflict. The proposed editorial boards include:
Wall Street Journal
New York Times
Think Tank Roundtable (Public)
Ambassador Bouhlal has met off-the-record with policymakers at the Council on Foreign Relations. Given the influence of think tanks in Washington, DC, the Comm. Team proposes an additional, public “conversation-style” roundtable with the Ambassador and a moderator to discuss previously agreed upon topics, followed by a Q&A portion with the audience. Invited guests would include policymakers (from the Hill and Admin) and targeted journalists. Possible locations for this roundtable would be CSIS, Brookings and The German Marshall Fund.
Website “Feature” Section
Our website statistics and analysis of web search results indicates that there are many people searching for information about Ambassador Bouhlal. (A Google search for “morocco ambassador bouhlal” yields the current posting on the MoroccoOnTheMove website about Ambassador Bouhlal’s event in Utah as the second result. Also, the most viewed post on the MOTM website over the last 30 days was “Morocco’s New Ambassador to the United States – Mohamed Rachad Bouhlal.”) Because the Embassy website is under construction, and to take advantage of the reach of the MoroccoOnTheMove website, the Comm Team proposes to use the “Features” section of MOTM not only to provide a photo, bio and contact information for the Ambassador, but also to highlight other public activities he participates in. (Note that after only four months on line, the website has had over 20,000 hits.) In addition, the current NPR sponsor tags refer to the MOTM website, so that these “Features” postings would increase the Ambassador’s exposure as he conducts introductory meetings over the coming months.